how many kids . . .

. . . just need a snack? How many kids are disciplined for poor behavior when they really just need a complex carb? We spent a few years giving time outs and taking away privileges before we figured it out.

Recently, our 1st grader’s teacher was diagnosed with “really bad germs in her chest.” She’ll be taking “really strong medicine” to kill the “bad germs” and some of the medicine will kill the good germs too, which will make her very tired and she won’t feel well. (PLEASE add her to your prayers.)

Among other things, this means PinkGirl has a different teacher for the rest of the year. I had to write this letter to the new teacher tonight and it got me thinking. Before you get frustrated at your child’s behavior or issue the time out, check the clock. You know your kid. When is the last time they ate? Could it really be this simple? Here’s the letter I wrote:

Mrs. L,

PinkGirl mentioned that she cried yesterday after recess, which we understand is just before lunch. I’ve sent a box of unsweetened fruit juice with her today for snack and would like her to have it at that time. It should prevent another problem such as the one she had yesterday. She was very embarrassed that she cried in front of her friends. We know the other children are drinking water, so anything you can do to minimize the fact that PinkGirl has juice would be very much appreciated.

PinkGirl has hypoglycemia and we have been successfully managing it for nearly 3 years. She can usually make it from snack to lunch, but when she is excited, has physically overextended herself or is under stress, that window of time diminishes. Her symptoms vary, but the big thing to watch for is emotional instability. She may cry and not be able to tell you why, she may find tragedy in an inconvenience or she may just simply display irritability. These are the mild symptoms.

When she exhibits any of these or similar behaviors, our first response is to check the clock. Nine times out of ten she needs some “energy.” It is very important to us that PinkGirl not internalize this as “I feel bad, I need to eat something.” We call it energy and are teaching her to recognize when she needs some. We are also teaching her which foods will help her (and which foods will not).

It’s important to understand that she cannot, by sheer will alone, modify her behavior. If not addressed, her symptoms can escalate. An extreme episode is very rare, but is characterized by uncontrollable crying, difficulty catching her breath, excessive yawning and extremely negative self-talk. Again, this is very rare, and she would be crushed if this happened to her in front of her friends.

In an emergency, sweetened juice or soda can provide an immediate relief, but she needs a complex carbohydrate very soon after to maintain a steady blood sugar level or she crashes again.

I’ll send the juice for snack for a while. We believe this will help PinkGirl during this time of adjustment. After we switch back to water, I’ll still send the juice in her lunch box, just in case you need it.

I’m sorry to inconvenience you. PinkGirl seemed to be doing so well with this, we weren’t expecting a problem.

Thanks for your help.

Recognize anything? If so, give a hug and a snack instead of a reprimand and a time out. I’m going to go kiss my daughter now.

5 thoughts on “how many kids . . .

  1. Thank you for this. I am going to pay a little closer attention to a few things with my guys and see what might be going on. I had not even thought about offering a snack when they get irritable – I don’t think they are hypoglycemic actually, but it wouldn’t hurt to try a healthy snack when meltdown threatens. I know how I feel when my ‘energy’ level is low.

  2. Rebekah, I hope it helps! This has really made a life changing difference in our everyday family life. My daughter genuinely didn’t understand why she was behaving the way she was. Now, when she “misbehaves” we first check her “energy,” then consider if she is tired (and needs a rest for a few minutes) or if she truly needs a punishment. We involve her in this three step process and it helps her take ownership and to recognize what she needs. She actually tells me she needs energy or a rest sometimes!

  3. What a great idea. I’ll watch for this with my boys too! I hope she is adjusting to the new class and doing well. We’ll keep her in our prayers.

  4. Thank you for sharing your experiences! Your daughter’s issues are just lke my son’s, who we only just realized is hypoglycemic and probably has been for over a year. It explains a sudden behavior change that we had thought was a reaction to school.(He started kindergarten last year.) Our sweet boy had turned into a real problem, for reasons he could never verbalize…and with our own energy checks, we have our sweetie back.

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